If this week’s rainfall is any indication, Seattle is in for a “very wet January,” according to the National Weather Service.
As of Tuesday afternoon, 4.94 inches of rain had fallen on the city this month — just under the typical January total of 5.78 inches, said meteorologist Mike McFarland. That’s also more than an inch more than the 3.54 inches of rain Seattle got by this time last year.
But things are just warming up with more rain on the way.
An atmospheric river is stalled for a few days over Western Washington. Seattle can expect an additional 1 to 2 inches of rain in the interior lowlands and 3 to 6 inches along the coast.
Seattle will see between a tenth and a quarter inch of rain on both Wednesday and Thursday.
Excessive rainfall and the risk of landslides and floods in the region were expected to persist through Tuesday night, but fade to “marginal” on Wednesday, according to the weather service. The current flood watches, however, remain in effect through Thursday.
Tuesday’s heavy rain created further avalanche danger and set back progress to reopen Stevens Pass and Tumwater Canyon, the Washington State Department of Transportation said.
On the west side of Stevens Pass, 3.5 inches of rain is expected to fall between Tuesday and Wednesday, creating snow instability. While WSDOT is still working toward a Wednesday reopening, crews were forced to abandon work on the west side, leaving about 20% of snow clearing work due to changing weather conditions.
WSDOT said that if conditions stabilize, avalanche teams will do more work Wednesday morning ahead of maintenance crews.
Flood watches are in effect for rivers in Grays Harbor, Jefferson and Clallam counties that flow out of the Olympics. In Mason County, heavy rain over the south slope of the Olympics is expected to push the Skokomish River at Potlatch above flood stage.
Rivers in King, Snohomish, Whatcom and Skagit counties that are fed by the Cascades could begin flooding Wednesday, according to the weather service.
The Northwest Avalanche Center reported considerable danger at West Slopes North, Stevens Pass, Snoqualmie Pass and East Slopes Central.
West Slopes Central is seeing considerable avalanche danger below and near the treeline, and high danger above. West Slopes South and East Slopes South face moderate avalanche danger.
At East Slopes North, moderate danger is reported below treeline, with considerable danger near and above.
Mount Hood is seeing low avalanche danger below and near treeline, and moderate danger above.
Less than a day after it reopened, White Pass — which was closed last week along with the region’s three other primary mountain passes — had to be shut down again due to a rockslide and unstable slopes west of the summit, WSDOT said.
Geotechnical engineers Tuesday determined the roadway was too unstable to open with a large boulder perched above.
A winter weather advisory was issued for Snoqualmie and Stevens passes, where winds from the east have kept a shallow layer of cold air near the surface. That layer is creating freezing rain, according to WSDOT.